Over the past few years I’ve been using a Google Sheets spreadsheet to track a bunch of different metrics in my life. I’ve slowly evolved and automated this process over the years and now I’ve written a script that pulls in a lot of things from FitBit automatically and that allows me to update it with emojis via text message (eg, I text my bot a when I drink caffeine). This is something that I built for myself but a lot of people have told me they are interested in it and track their own lives using spreadsheets as well. Is this something you’d be interested in setting up for yourself? Would this be useful to you as a minimalistic service?
Logging using emojis is a great idea, though to me tapping a logging widget on the home screen (see e.g. Tap Log or Trackthisforme) seems less tedious than texting (or even using voice commands, if anyone supported that).
“Denormalized” spreadsheets are fine for viewing, but having separate sheets with no more than one value per cell makes calculating stats a lot less awkward.
Having timestamps for events like “had a cup of coffee” is very useful. People filling out spreadsheets by hand often simply record “had coffee yes/no” or “cups of coffee”, because they only update their spreadsheet once a day, from memory.
Good blog post Chris! You say “you had to be difficult and make your own” self-tracking solution but I think this approach is not only sensible, but the only way to ensure self-tracking becomes valuable.
I will try Tap Log and Trackthisforme and see if they save me any time for messaging. I’ve written the script such that I could swap out SMS for any sort of events. Maybe there could be modules… one for SMS, one for Tap Log, etc. Although it’s starting to feel like I’m rebuilding IFTTT
Agreed - I’m starting to think about ways to do this such that each cell has only one value. The purist and software engineer in me wants normalized data but I’d also like to keep it to one row per day. I like that Postgres has built-in support for things like JSON and lists as values… if only Google Sheets did too. For now I haven’t run into any issues with having multiple values per cell because it’s pretty easy to parse them. Going forward this is something I’ll keep thinking about.
Trackthisforme has a Web API. Nomie is another, similar app, works both on Android and iOS, but it doesn’t have widgets, so you need to open the app in order to log anything (not sure iOS even has anything like widgets anyway).
Hey peeps, quick update. I open sourced the repo - check it out here and feel free to set it up and use it on your own. I wish the setup was easier but OAuth2 is a pain. Getting the OAuth setup to be simpler would be a whole project on its own.